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The HEX Code Wallet case is nicely built, but a little too unwieldy


A few years ago, I decided to do my best to narrow down the number of things I carry around in my pockets every single day. Instead of one giant keychain with all of the keys I've ever owned on it, I cut down to two smaller keychains, one for my house and another for my car. And instead of a giant wallet that had been stretching out my back pants pockets, I instead just grabbed the insert out and stuck my ID and a few cards in there. Other than that, my iPhone 4 is the largest thing I carry around all the time. Of course, the functionality is definitely worth it, but still, I've always wondered if there was a way I could go even lighter, and combine my iPhone and wallet into one unit.

The HEX Code Wallet case for the iPhone 4 or 4S is designed to do just that: It's a very well-made leather wraparound case that has a few card slots on the inside front cover, and the goal is to simply store a credit card or two and your ID, so that you don't need to carry around both a phone and a wallet when you go out. Unfortunately, the HEX Wallet isn't what I'm looking for. While it will definitely store your cards as needed, it's just too unwieldy for the simplicity that I'm after.

The case is definitely well-built -- the leather on the outside is solid, if a little too rough. Inside, however, the leather that holds your cards is quite luxurious, and the plastic that holds in the iPhone is smooth and strong. I had no problem snapping my iPhone 4 into place, and while it was a little tougher to get it out, presumably you won't be removing it much once you've purchased this one. All of the buttons are, obviously, accessible, and a nice open area near the dock connector means I had no issues hooking my iPhone up to a charging cable while in the case.

The biggest issue with the HEX, however, is when you start to put your cards in it. There are three slots on the inside front cover, as well as a larger pocket behind. But if you actually do use all three slots, the case becomes quite thick, and a little too unwieldy for my taste. Plus, even with my wallet insert, I still carry around 10 or 12 cards (from various customer appreciation programs and discount stores), so the HEX wouldn't work for me all of the time anyway.

The other issue I have with the case is the strap that runs from top to bottom outside, and is meant to keep the case closed and shut when you're done with the iPhone. While the strap itself is nice and strong and seems well-connected to the case, I just found it in the way while I was using the case, and it felt a little awkward snapping it back around when the case was being closed. Fans of Moleskine notebooks may love this strap, but personally, it didn't work for what I wanted.

And finally, though this is probably the most personal of my feedback, I just don't like the idea of a cover flap on my iPhone. It makes what is a really beautiful and simple device into something off-center and even ugly. The flap doesn't fold around to the back at all, so when you're using the iPhone with this case on, it's basically a book where you're only reading the right side of the page. I admit that this is mostly personal taste, but that's not the case for me.

If you do just have a few cards you want to make sure are always with your iPhone, and you don't mind those concerns about having a cover and a strap on your case, then the HEX Wallet might be what you're looking for. At $50, it's not cheap, but the production materials aren't cheap here, either -- this definitely feels like a case that can last a while, and the black one I tested did look quite classy, especially when closed.

But this case definitely isn't the one for me. Personally, I'm more excited about the possibilities of Passbook in iOS 6, and any other future technologies that allow me to use my iPhone as a credit card, identification system or even car key. Eventually, my hope is that all I'll ever have to carry around to get whatever I need will be Apple's gorgeous smartphone, and any case it needs will accent its beauty, rather than try to cover it all up.

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